Ogun Hijab Crisis: Judge shows awareness about hijab cases across Nigeria

Justice Bamgbose Alabi, handling the case of violation of fundamental human right instituted by nine-year-old Aisha AbdulAleem on the use of hijab in public schools, has called the attention of parties in the case to various hijab cases across Nigeria.

Aisha Abdul-Akeem, a 9-year-old JSS1 student of Gateway Secondary School, Abeokuta, on whose hijab was forcefully removed

Aisha Abdul-Akeem, a 9-year-old JSS1 student of Gateway Secondary School, Abeokuta, on whose hijab was forcefully removed

Aisha instituted the case against the principal of Gateway Secondary School, Abeokuta, Mrs Kushimo; Commissioner for Education, and her counterpart in the Ministry of Justice, and the Ogun State Government.

Justice Bamgbose who called the attention of the parties to the cases while responding to the allegation of tactful delay of the case informed the parties that related cases had been instituted in Lagos, Osun, Kwara, Oyo and other States across Nigeria.

“The issue is not only in Ogun State, but it also happened in other States. Are you also aware of the case of LAUTECH in Ogbomosho, ISIS in Ibadan,…Ilorin and even Oyo State?”

The Presiding Judge promised to ensure expeditious hearing of the case due to its sensitive nature but despite this, he would take time to hear the positions of all the parties in the interest of justice.

The judge explained that efforts achieved so far towards delivering judgement on the case is far ahead of the ISIS case which started before the one before his court.

After one and half hour of considering the case,

While adjourning the case to Friday, Jan. 25, for ruling on the application for a further written address in support of counter affidavit by the defence lawyer, Justice Bamgbose urged the counsels to the claimants and defendants to reach consensus on the faith of Aisha’s resumption to a suitable school before deciding on the case.

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Mr Akinbami had earlier kicked against the application of Mr Bamgbose for a further written address in support of counter affidavit earlier filed, describing it as an attempt to further delay the expeditious hearing of the case.

He argued that the application which was served on him today (Wednesday) was filed under the rule of the court not relevant to the application adding that there must be an end to further written address.

In his argument, the defence counsel insisted that the application was in order and should be considered on its merit and sake of justice irrespective of the rule it relied on.

Meanwhile, traditionalists in Ogun State under the aegis of Traditional Healers Association have appeared before Justice Bamgbose to show interest in the case of abuse of fundamental human right instituted by Aisha over the use of hijab in public schools in the State.

The Counsel for the traditionalists, Chief Bode Thomas Akintubuwa announced his appearance at the resumed hearing today.

When the Judge queried the counsel of the traditionalists that he was yet to see his application to be joined in the case, Akintubuwa explained that he had applied for the processes in an attempt to make a written application to be joined in the case.

The counsel of the claimant, Mr S.A Akinbami described the appearance of Akintubuwa for the traditionalists as “another twist to the matter”, insisting that “he must show his interest before he could be allowed into this matter.”

Responding, Akintubuwa argued that the traditionalists decided to apply to be joined in the case because it is of “public interest” as they are interested in the prayer of the claimant on fundamental human right to wear hijab at public institution funded by taxpayers money paid by Christians, Muslims, traditionalists, atheists,  even Buddhists.

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 “We want a court to make a ruling whether it is fundamental right to go to the public institution to wear religious apparel.”

Akinabami expressed worry that the counsel to the traditionalist has “turned this case to another thing entirely. Our case is against the government. We are not saying all should wear hijab. He is just here to waste the time of the court.”

 The court was overcrowded with adherents of Islam and Christianity who made frantic moves to observe the hijab case.

The security officials in the court had to appeal to the observers to leave the courtroom to allow enough ventilation.

Responding to overcrowding of the court by different religious adherents, Justice Bamgbose instructed that litigants to cases before him should be given preferences and access to the court sitting positions than the observers.

“When next this matter comes up, if you are not litigants, you are not expected here…..this place is so hot, I don’t know how we find this place comfortable,” Justice Bamgbose directed.

“The court is not to be directed by numbers but by what the law says.”

It would be recalled that the Appeal Court sitting in Lagos ruled in favour of the use of hijab while similar cases are on-going in different States in the federation.

From Jamiu Folarin, Abeokuta

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